Moscato d'Asti, a wine with a fizz
Italy has a great many areas where wines are made with a fizz, from whites to reds, sweet to dry, from simple to complex styles in terms of winemaking and what's in your glass.
Moscato d'Asti is one of them, made in Piemonte in the northwest of Italy. It's one of the 77 DOCG wines of Italy, and it actually is a shared DOCG because it has two unidentical twins which are the Asti Dolce (fully sparkling sweet style) and Asti Secco (fully sparkling dry).
The grape for all styles is the same, the Moscato Bianco (Muscat a Petit Grains) which is a highly fragrant grape variety, but the process is different (the latter are Spumante).
Moscato d'Asti is the version that is most appreciated by wine lovers and used in gastronomy. It's not fully sparkling, so what we call "frizzante" in Italian, and undergoes just one fermentation before bottling. The fermentation is intentionally stopped at around 5% of alcohol and the remaining sugar left in the wine is all-natural. What makes it quite remarkable is the intensity of the aromas from the grapes, the sweetness which is counter-balanced by the acidity, and the gentle fizzy sensation on the palate which easily can lead to drinking a whole bottle without much ado.
Italians would typically drink Moscato d'Asti at the end of the meal together with dessert. A large amount is consumed around holidays such as Christmas where it is paired with Panettone or similar traditional cakes for the holidays. It's also very popular at birthday parties when Italians feel like something festive but don't want to get drunk. It is typically paired with dry pastries such a fruit cakes or sponge cakes.
Not all pairings are traditional (sweet-sweet), but bolder pairings are also being performed for example with salumi (salt-cured cold cuts) where the fizz cuts through the grease on the palate, with oysters (uh, that's daring!) or with spicy dishes of the oriental cuisine.
Check out our wine classes that cover Tuscany and all of Italy - learn more in class or online with the Italian Wine Institute in Florence.
Here you can watch a video from the Gianni Doglia winery in the area of Monferrato where Gianni produces Moscato d'Asti.